The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Violence fear looms on counting day

Guwahati, May 10: The spectre of fresh violence hangs over Assam as the state gets ready for the counting of votes tomorrow.

Assam director-general of police D.N. Dutt told The Telegraph that though the Ulfa remained “neutral” during the Assembly polls, there was a “strong possibility” of the proscribed militant outfit stepping up acts of violence in the post-poll scenario.

Election Commission officials said the counting of votes would be held simultaneously in 47 centres to decide the fate of 997 candidates. Heightened security measures have been adopted after a bid on the life of AGP leader and party candidate from Amguri constituency, Pradip Hazarika, by suspected Ulfa rebels in Sivasagar district yesterday.

All the candidates have been briefed about their security drill and were asked to take certain precautionary steps so that they are not exposed to any threat.

Dutta said a massive area dominance operation had been launched to prevent violence, particularly by militants.

“We had given maximum emphasis to the security of the strongroom and also prepared an elaborate security plan for the counting. Arrangements have been further tightened after the attack on the AGP leader yesterday,” Dutt said. Hazarika was travelling on a motorcycle despite being on the hitlist of the banned outfit.

The situation is being continuously monitored and steps taken accordingly.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi also reviewed the security arrangements today. He held a meeting with chief secretary S. Kabilan, Dutta and other senior officials.

AGP president Brindaban Goswami today sought Governor Ajai Singh’s intervention in providing adequate security to party leaders, apprehending that more of his party colleagues could be targeted in the run-up to the formation of a new government.

He also appealed to the Ulfa to refrain from any activities that would be detrimental to the peace process.

The Election Commission has already identified the districts of Kokrajhar, North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong as “most vulnerable”; Dhubri, Hailakandi and Karimganj as “sensitive” and Baksa and Udalguri in Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) as “special cases”.

Guwahati Doordarshan Kendra will telecast hourly news bulletins in Assamese and English along with election result analysis tomorrow. The programmes will be telecast in DD1 and DD13.

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